Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wachusett Meadows Breeding Bird Survey and more recordings!

Alan and I would head out to Wachusett Meadows today to participate in the Forbush Bird Club Breeding Bird Survey and get there for 7.  Since time was of the essence I'll warn you now I was too busy watching, listening and counting birds to grace you all with any of my lousy photos.  Except for this one of course of two Eastern Phoebe's prior to setting off on our route to start the count.

Larry would join us, and we'd be thrilled to find out his grandfather was Lawrence Chapman himself who was a major figure in getting all that wonderful land donated to Mass Audubon (hence the name of the Chapman trail).  We'd be grateful for not only the company but the extra set of eyes and ears as well.  Once we started our route we'd immediately pick up some Ovenbirds, Pine Warblers and the first of our Red-breasted Nuthatches above (I lied a little when I told you I didn't take any lousy photos as you can see this one is awful!).

We'd continue and be very happy with our route as we'd pick up quite a few Blackburnian Warblers on the way (five in total) as well as some much wanted Black-throated Greens as soon as we got to the Hemlock's.

It would be here we'd pick up a Winter Wren as well as our first woodpecker of the day who'd be a Hairy which I'd get by ear.  Moments later I'd see a woodpecker land on a tree trunk and call out I have a visual on the Hairy but at second glance I'd realize it would be woodpecker number two.

Who'd turn out to be our much wanted Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a gorgeous male no less which was a treat with killer looks (a first for Larry) so was happy to not only get it for the breeding survey but to show Larry as well as you couldn't get a better look for your first time.

We'd get to a different habitat and I'd comment about it being Black-throated Blue territory as a way of wishful thinking and it wouldn't take us long to find one and a male no less!  We'd confirm that when suddenly a bird called out from nearby and we'd know it was a waterthrush, but thought Northern at first as we were in the middle of the woods with no visible water nearby.  Soon enough we'd realize it wasn't a Northern and my wishful thinking kicks in as I ask Alan to play Yellow-throated Warbler for me as the beginning notes of their song reminds me of a Louisiana and who knows as one was spotted here a few weeks back so maybe it stuck around.  Alan would play it and disappointment would kick in though I knew it was a long shot but we still didn't believe the LA due to NO WATER.  We'd both comment on the end note of the song so Alan would play the Louisiana once and out the bird would fly from no where to confirm what we heard.  I'd even do some audio of it as a record shot considering we thought it rare to have this bird in such a habitat.  We'd still be happy about the unexpected find when we'd hear the unmistakable call of a Red-shouldered Hawk and be thrilled to get two of them with half way decent looks of one.  We'd continue along our way and about 1/10th of a mile or so we'd hear rushing water which would explain the Waterthush so all in all this was a great route for the count and all of us would be happy.

I'd get home and both neighbors would be out planting flowers and trimming weeds when suddenly a bad case of "the negligent neighbor" would take hold as both mowed their lawn yesterday which makes mine look ever worse considering it hasn't been mowed in two weeks.  I'd make a comment to my son and he'd tell me the same thing which is "I'll get to it this week" so naturally I would do the thing every mother should which is to flee the yard and the Bobolink habitat and take off to Brierly for some much needed R&R!

I'd decide to do a different route this time and once again fledglings would be everywhere including the House Wren (audio below).  I'd be somewhat taken aback by this as I've never recorded an adult in this area before so have no idea where they came from but there they were for both my ears and eyes.

Not the best volume wise but thought it was neat enough to record so I did!  A few feet away from here would be another family of birds who'd turn out to be some Downy Woodpeckers so naturally I'd record them too!
Again, not the best volume wise but what do you expect from a Droid!  Love their little begging calls and got good looks of the female feeding the nestlings still in the tree cavity so it was a welcome treat and made me forget about my white trash lawn!

I'd set about my different route which was to get to Mount Ararat all by myself after Alan showed me the way as I wanted to prove I could do it and of course I'd get good and lost.  I'd find myself on one of those mountain bike loops created by the mountain bikers where I'd continue to hit the same spot many times only to do it again when suddenly I'd hear a loud, clear, fluid chip note nearby making me stop dead in my tracks to try and ID it.  Out would come the Droid for recording and was happy it was close enough to get a half way decent audio and this is what I'd get.

Is that not the coolest looking sonogram or what!  I'd still not know what the bird was but was determined to find out considering I got such a good recording and couldn't post it on Xeno Canto without an ID when Ovenbird came to mind as I remember something similar coming from one last year.  I'd get my Droid out and only get to one "Teacher" when suddenly the bird came out of nowhere and started calling and singing like mad.

Which leads me to Sonogram number two.  Love to see the two sonograms of the same bird close to one another for comparison.

Record shot of the recording star as he got closer to me for inspection.

It would be obvious to me at this point the bird was agitated by my presence even before playing the call  when I was just minding my own business while trying to get myself unlost so did what I usually do when alone with no one looking and that is smile at him while he's looking at me with his "hairy eyeball" and apologize for the disturbance in the sweetest baby talk voice I could muster.  That didn't work so I hauled butt away from him trying to make my way down the trail and out of the vicious loop I was in.  I'd then remember something Alan does whenever somewhat lost which is to not follow the trail but to bush whack in the area you want to get to instead.  It wouldn't take me long to hear the distant Gray Tree Frogs which was my bench mark (as well as the American Redstarts) to make sure I was headed in the right direction.

And based on how loud the tree frogs are you can see why I used them as my bench mark!  If you listen closely you can hear a Veery and some recently fledged Black-capped Chickadees but the tree frogs drowned them out despite both being fairly close by.  I'd listen to this wonderful chorus for about 10 minutes as I'd never heard it so loud and didn't want to leave.  I think I'm finally at the phase of my birding where I want to learn more about insects, frogs, butterflies, etc-now that I've gotten the hang of birds somewhat.  The first few years in my learning about nature I never paid much attention to anything else but the birds as I didn't want to overwhelm the brain with too much to learn too quick, but believe I'm ready to take it to the next level.

I'd get home and get dinner ready accompanied by an iced cold beer when my son's friend came as you can't miss him (remember the one with the loud bike?)  Well he still has it and it still produces the same trauma with my house cats but he'd come with one purpose and one purpose only which was to mow my lawn!  See he not only likes the loud engine to his motor bike, but the lawn mower as well and I often come home to see the lawn mowed and it being obvious my dear, lazy son was not the one to do it as it comes out so much better. So now I end the weekend with a lot of great birds, recordings, memories and a lawn as nice as my neighbors.

Take care all.

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